Knitting Series: Weaving

Let’s talk about weaving.

Now, I know that weaving is not a form of knitting, and supposedly this is the day I post about knitting.

But you know what, I think it’s close enough. I made a scarf out of yarn. I learned a new fibery skill. I think that’s what matters.

So, let’s start with how I ended up taking on a weaving project.

One of my favorite things about my Local Yarn Store is the community of it. It’s an adorable little store in the heart of East Lansing, called Woven Art. They’re constantly updating their shop and hosting classes and knit-alongs. When I received their weekly newsletter informing me that there was a weaving class offered, I just managed to claim the last spot in the course.

Weaving is something I’ve been interested in for a while, but only really started to think seriously about after watching the Babbles Traveling Yarns podcast. I love the woman who hosts this podcast, and Grace loves all things fiber. When she showed off a gorgeous scarf she’d woven in one of her episodes, I decided that I had to learn how to do it.

Rather serendipitously, I noticed the weaving class offered at Woven Art only a couple of weeks after watching that episode. After a bit of encouragement from my boyfriend, I decided to join the class that was happening just a few days from the day I signed up! It was a bit of a scramble to make sure I didn’t have plans and to get my supplies, but well worth it.

The class started at 9am on Sunday, and was set to end at 4:30pm, though I finished my project before that deadline and was able to go home and relax my aching muscles.

But more on that in a moment.

The class taught us all the basics of a Rigid Heddle Loom, pictured below:

We learned every step of the weaving process, from warping to finishing and complete with all the crazy lingo in between. If you thought knitters were hard to understand, trust me, they have nothing on weavers. Warp, weft, beat, shed. There’s so many words to know that are utterly unintelligible without a translator.

So, the first step in weaving is setting up your warp threads. These are the threads that go up and down in the project, essentially what you’ll be weaving into.

Setting up the warp is time consuming.

It took us about an hour to set up our 8″ wide, 70″ long warp. It’s not a complicated process, it just takes a while.

So, once we warped our looms, it was time to get weaving!

I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I was surprised by the way you work this particular loom.

Specifically, that this monstrosity could have one end laid in my lap and the other braced on the table in front of me, and that it would be so comfortable!

As I’ll discuss later, I wouldn’t necessarily say that sitting upright in this position for extended periods of time is comfortable, I mean it in a different sense. The position of the loom and the back and for motions of weaving felt extremely natural. Even if my edges were by no means perfect, the process was very smooth and easy to execute.

Overall, I absolutely loved this class. The teacher was kind, patient, and knew her stuff. My fellow students were all friendly and easygoing, making for a perfect afternoon of occasional chatting and lots of companionable silence.

The only complaint I have about the course is the length, which, unfortunately, there’s no easy solution to. There aren’t many project options that would feel complete besides a scarf. Maybe a place mat or a dishcloth, but the former generally needs multiples and the latter involves more complicated weaving techniques. But a scarf takes quite some time.

By the time I finished my scarf, I’d been weaving almost nonstop for about five hours. Weaving with this type of loom engages your back and shoulders extensively, and by the end of the session, I was almost in tears with the pain of using those muscles for so long.

Now part of that is because I’m a naturally tense person, especially in social situations, and I needed to relax more while I wove. But truly, going from weaving not at all, rarely using those muscles, to abusing them for such an extended period was not good.

Nonetheless, I would still highly recommend learning to weave for anyone interested. As I write this, I’m working on saving up for my own loom, so that I can properly dive into the craft!

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